Restoring Our Little Lady’s Facade

Re post from our sister blog ..

Our little cottage is an original post WWII house, complete with timber frames, skinny jarrah floors and asbestos walls. At the end of WWII, the Government found themselves in somewhat of a housing crisis here in Western Australia, with the Doubleview northern corridor being one of the suburbs selected to build homes for our returning soldiers.

Originally, our cottage was on the front of a full sized block, however, at some point, a developer bought two blocks of land side by side, picked up our lady, popped her at the back of one and developed the other, making our original 1948 home unique to its rear location.

I love that in the last 69 years she has seen so much, she homed a returning war hero and his family, she has raised families, listened to children squealing, laughing and their tears, homed moments of sorrow and joy and of course, been a drug house before we rescued her. 

In the last 2.5 years here we have slowly repaired and loved her, as much by our own hands as we can. We thought, whilst on the long saving journey for the kitchen, it was time to restore her face to a pretty picture, and why not add a dash of pink?

This is how we bought her, she had seen better days and to be frank, this is the real estate shot, it was worse, so much worse.

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At some point over the last 69 years, the original asbestos (canary yellow by the looks of it?!) had been cladded with cedar, all of which was in quite bad disrepair. The eaves were open and the vast space under the house was badly concealed and a complete waste of storage space.

We argued in our usual manner regarding colours, I wanted white, Matt wanted blue, we compromised on grey until, at the last minute Matt agreed to white (silent hurrah from the stands!). We decided on soft grey for the jarrah windows, gutters, roof and eves, its a gorgeous soft pop against the white. Our final colour selection utilised Dulux Lexicon for the cladding and Dulux Colourbond Shale Grey for the trims.

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Now here at THE Painter | THE Stylist, we are firm believers in small family helpers. We had the children big and small on the tools, the smallest one wasn’t overly productive, although, as he can’t yet walk (and is adorable) we’ll let that one go.

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Matt tackled all the repair work, closing in the eves, rebuilding the front door frame and fixing dodgy timber, the man should have been a chippy, he’s so great with building. We obviously had to replace the stairs and porch timber, because, well, ugly, and unsafe, not to code and you know, ugly.

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Matt and Noah ripped the stairs and porch up, Harrison, partial to demolition of his own kind, was on board.

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Here we hired our trusted carpenter friend to build a new porch and stairs. We choose Merbau, a hardwood with a high degree of durability and strength. Originally we were going to white wash the timber, but after they were installed Matt changed his mind. True story, we didn’t speak for 2 full days in this argument, but he won this one, my compromise being that the wood would be stained slightly darker to remove some of the orange tones. Now that they are stained, I have to say I love them natural, although we won’t tell my husband that ..

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How seriously wonderful is our carpenter?

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Now, you know that unused space under the house? Well my clever husband made gates and we decided on corrugated zinc to clad them. The zinc keeps the cottage in period, and breaks up the vast amount of timber.

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The finish line was in sight, three coats of paint, huge amounts of repair and restricted by the three children (one being just a little tacker, and a needy one at that) and work commitments meant this project was approaching the four month mark and we wanted her complete.

Although Matt is a registered and practising painter and owns a small sprayer, we use a professional paint sprayer for larger commercial projects and big residential jobs. Joe has a fabulous commercial grade sprayer and his work is spot on. We hired him to spray the carport in shale grey and also, the horrid old cement roof tiles.

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Matt re pointed the ridge capping himself and high pressured hosed 69 years of moss and grime off the tiles, it did take quite some time and was rather messy. However, doing this meant our sprayer had a beautiful clean surface prepared and the spraying itself only took a day for a sealer and two coats.

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In keeping with our motto, if in doubt, paint it… I decided to try giving the original lights some love and paint before splurging on new porch lights. They aren’t perfect but I prefer imperfect and I love that they keep with the original era of our home.

Now, I really, really.. did I say really?? wanted a pink front door. I’m partial to pink (understatement of the century) and I thought it would be the perfect accompaniment to the white and grey.

Finding the perfect pink was tricky, it had to work with the warmth of the timber and the cool white and grey. We tried British Paints Gentle Kiss first, it was pretty and it worked but it was a, is it pink? colour, it wasn’t enough ‘oomph’.

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After playing around with Gentle Kiss to make it darker we ended up ditching it in lieu of Dulux Light Lily, a soft dusty pink that we feel is a perfect pop, without being too candy like.

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Matt found two terracotta pots ‘roadside’shopping’ which we quickly painted and purchased a pair of Benjamin Ficus to frame the entrance.

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The final touch was to fill the front garden bed, in which two rather old and beautiful roses resided in grey sand.

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I’m in love with our pink creeper, I can’t wait for her to weave her beautiful magic around the drain pipe, softening the corner and complementing the front door.

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This old jarrah bench was a roadside shop about a decade ago, its been every colour under the sun but this time she’s a mix match of some old grey and white paint.

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Our little lady is now oh so pretty, with a fresh take of an old cottage, keeping with her original charm and working with an almost non existent budget.

With the exclusion of the construction of the steps and spray labour hire, we completed the rest ourselves, saving thousands in trades. The final budget came in at $3,700, which includes the roof restoration. I keep a running spreadsheet (those who know me are nodding, of course she does!) of every nail, gap filler, paint tin, timber, drill bit etc.. that we have bought for our home and each section it applies to. We have every square inch of this lady to overhaul and we are being very careful not to overcapitalise.

Our tips when working on a budget, do the dirty work yourselves, if you are prepared to live in a mess for as long as it takes and really get dirty, sweaty, sometimes there is blood and an emergency room (don’t ask!) and make mistakes, go DIY. Hire trades when you need a professional or are not confident you have watched enough YouTube’s to become an expert.. (although we recommend that around 5 views qualifies for a trade cert 🙂 )

She officially took 4.5 months, which seems like a long time, but realistic when we only had around 6 hours a weekend to work on her. As with everything we have worked on with our fixer upper, we run into issues, which come hand in hand with older homes. Nothing is even, nothing is to scale, houses were built very differently 70 years ago, but I certainly love her imperfections and I wouldn’t have her any other way.

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Ugly to pretty in pictures ..

 

Until next time ..

THE Painter & THE Stylist

 

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